Rooster Sauce includes from left, Sarah Lee (Adelaide Every), General Lee (Dave Jones), Stagger Lee (Dave Martens) and David Lee (Chris Knudson).
Photo courtesy Mary Ward
In their YouTube video for the song “Snakeskin Monkey with a Baboon Smile,” local garage rockers Rooster Sauce make the wild world of Alice in Wonderland look like a day on Wall Street. The video begins with a rabbit-suited man (none other than alderman Jason Wiener) beckoning the camera through the front door of a house, then weaving through various rooms and out into the backyard.
There, Rooster Sauce rocks out while surrounded by hula-hooping psychedelic girls, a giant poodle-headed person, dancers in feather boas and striped umbrellas, one dude in a gorilla suit and a troll grooving to the music, among others. The video jumps from that backyard scene to a dash across the Greenough Park bridge to live concert footage at the Badlander, all set to the same catchy but completely nonsensical song.
Catchy and nonsensical, in fact, defines Rooster Sauce. The band formed two years ago, playing its first show on Easter Sunday to a small crowd at the space that is now the Savoy. The band members dressed as Easter eggs. Since then, after replacing their original drummer and bassist, they’ve solidified their line-up and are releasing their debut album, Zombies of the Ultra League, on vinyl this week. (A bonus CD will be available for those who are more digitally inclined.)
“The songs on the record are pretty much all the songs we’ve been kicking around for the last year and a half,” says guitarist/vocalist David Lee Rooster. “It was pretty much time to get the record out. We’ve already got about five or six new songs for our next record.”
David Lee (suspected to be former bassist for the International Playboys, Chris Knudson) writes most of the band’s songs in just a few minutes. For instance, he wrote “Hot Pocket,” a tune that sounds too sassy and sexy to literally be about microwavable snack food—references to ham and cheese and the “meat ball rocket” are dead giveaways—in five minutes. “Vampire’s Kiss,” which references the cultish 1989 Nicolas Cage film, took just as long to create. And though the video for “Snakeskin Monkey with a Baboon Smile” took some time, the song itself was written in one quick sitting.
Rooster Sauce may sound like The Makers or the Oblivians, but the lyrics are more like the Beatles’ White Album meets The Misfits—psychedelic crossed with sci-fi monster mash. In “Snakeskin Monkey,” David Lee belts out, “Jackelope moonlight. Lonesome cowboy. Italian village by candlelight. Ruby red medallion. Donkey shadow!” before getting to the chorus, which the band sings together: “When the snakeskin monkey looks at you, with a baboon smile and a purple trenchcoat, get ready! Zebra sunglasses tonight!”
If you can’t make heads or tails of the lyrics’ meaning, don’t count on the band to help figure things out. When asked to describe their music, they suggest a grab bag of sounds: Kiss and Joan Jett. A touch of the Pet Shop Boys. John Tesh. The Monkees. And after a moment of thoughtful silence David Lee says, “I think we’re all really big fans of ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ by Falco, and that may have factored in, too.”
But ask them about their origins as a band and it gets even weirder.
“Rooster Sauce began for me as a lark,” explains bassist Sarah Lee Rooster (otherwise known as Adelaide Every). “I’d been hanging out on planet Xenon and had just quit my interstellar band. I thought Earth might be a cool place to hang out for a bit, and that’s when I met up with these guys from the planet Zorbot.”
Rooster Sauce eagerly taps into rock ’n’ roll’s history of extraterrestrial connections. Mid-1980s sci-fi/horror group Gwar claims to be intergalactic warriors. Fully bearded thrash metal band Valient Thorr insist that they’re “rock ’n’ roll saviors” from Venus. And the 1990s band Man or Astro-man? allegedly came from space to Earth in order to play surf rock. Man or Astro-Man? later sent two groups of “clones” out on the road to tour in their place—one group of men called the Alpha Clones and a female group called the Gamma Clones.
In the same tradition, Rooster Sauce won’t publicly acknowledge their true identities, but their real names and previous bands are well known. Knudson played for the Playboys, as well as Daphne Starburst and The Hermans. Every is a local artist and Missoula’s reigning Best DJ under the moniker DJ Mermaid. Guitarist General Lee is Dave Jones, the former frontman for The Hermans, and drummer Stagger Lee is Dave Martens, guitarist for Streetlight People.
Despite their hidden identities, Rooster Sauce is up front about its aspiration. And, not unlike other extraterrestrials on Earth, they’re out for at least one thing.
“World domination,” answers Sarah Lee, decidedly.
“Sarah Lee might want world domination,” counters David Lee, “but I want action figures. I want McFarlane Toys to make action figures for us. And if we had more money we could put on bigger, cooler stage shows. I see giant disco balls and dragons and smoke and lasers. I think if we can put on a show like Mötely Crüe in the early ’80s, we’d like to do that.”
Considering the band’s demonstrated ability to work fast, think big and charm elected officials, those dreams don’t seem too farfetched at all.
Rooster Sauce plays a record release show at the Badlander Saturday, May 2, at 9 PM, with H is for Hellgate and Ghost. $8.